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“These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”

Diplomatic cables are internal documents that would include a range of secret communications between U.S. diplomatic outposts and State Department headquarters in Washington.

WikiLeaks has said the release will be seven times the size of its October leak of 400,000 Iraq war documents, already the biggest leak in U.S. intelligence history.

The U.S. says it has known for some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.

Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said Friday that he had been “told that the person responsible for this leak has been arrested.” The Italian Foreign Ministry later said Frattini was talking about Manning.

WikiLeaks, which also has released secret U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan, was founded by Julian Assange.

The Australian former computer hacker is currently wanted by Sweden for questioning in a drawn-out rape probe. Assange, 39, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden.

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AP writers Rebecca Santana in Baghdad, Matthew Lee in Washington, and Bjoern H. Amland in Oslo contributed to this report.